Found February 03, 2012 on
The Cleveland Indians finally addressed their hole at first base yesterday when they signed free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman. What a difference a year makes. No one would have taken that opening sentence seriously a year ago, but Kotchman experienced something of a renaissance last season in Tampa Bay.
Kotchman returned from the baseball scrapheap to post a .306/.378/.422 slash line last season. While an .800 OPS isn’t going to get you inducted into Cooperstown, it will get you a starting job at the position. The trouble is that Kotchman is a career .734 guy. That won’t get you a starting job in many markets, but the Indians are in a unique position. They gave their first base job to a young prospect that has yet to materialize. So, we compare Casey Kotchman to Matt LaPorta to see how much improvement the Indians are seeing.
- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .AVG. . . . .OBP. . . . .SLG. . . . . .SO%. . . . .BB%. . . . .BABIP
- Casey Kotchman. . . .268. . . . ..336. . . . .398. . . . ..10.0. . . . .8.3. . . . . . .280
- Matt LaPorta. . . . . . .238. . . . ..304. . . . .397. . . . ..20.4. . . . .8.0. . . . . . .273
The main thing to notice about these two is that Kotchman may look like he is better in every category, but he is worse in one major category. Isolated power is not shown here, but it is a major consideration. You can calculate isolated power by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Casey Kotchman’s is a puny .130 for his career. Most first basemen tend to average somewhere in the neighborhood of .200. LaPorta’s is a more acceptable .159 and he is being replaced.
Fortunately, LaPorta has minor league options left, so there will not be a key position battle in Spring Training. One way or another, LaPorta needs to figure out some things before he reclaims the position. Still, the Indians were smart to wait Kotchman out. 2011 hid a lot of problems that have resurfaced throughout Kotchman’s career. Primarily, first base is not a spot where you want to see a glorified singles hitter.
That being said, Kotchman does bring some things to the table. He consistently hits for a decent average and gets on base at a decent clip. Also, he makes consistent contact as you can see above. More importantly, Kotchman has been a plus defensive first baseman through his big league career. Last season he fell to somewhere around average, but that is likely still better than LaPorta.
- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2011 UZR. . . . .2011 UZR/150. . . . . . Career
- Casey Kotchman. . . . . . ..+1.6. . . . . . . . . . ..+2.2. . . . . . . . . . .+32.3
- Matt LaPorta. . . . . . . . . . .-5.9. . . . . . . . . . . .-8.6. . . . . . . . . . . . .-8.5
Ultimate zone runs are only one metric, but every respected fielding metric (Dewan runs, Fielding runs above average, and Rfield) have Casey Kotchman as a considerably better first baseman than LaPorta. Seven runs isn’t an inconsiderable sum. If both played a full season we might even expect Kotchman to be ten runs better. So, let’s say that he could be expected to surpass him by that same total offensively. Twenty runs is a fairly good margin and could be worth four to five games total.
In addition to being the editor of hardballchat.com, Scott Barzilla is also the proud father of one and the author of four books. His books can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Barzilla's Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical advancement.
BEST OF MAXIM
The Cleveland Indians completed their quest to land a new first baseman Thursday, reaching agreement with free agent Casey Kotchman on a one-year contract, according to a major-league source.
Kotchman, who turns 29 on Feb. 22, spent last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .306/378/.422 with 10 homers and 48 RBI in 563 plate appearances.
One reason Kotchman appealed to the...
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti began the offseason by saying that Matt LaPorta would have to come to spring training and win the first base job. Antonetti made no secret of the fact that in searching for another hitter, he was considering any and all available first basemen below the two marquee free agents, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
That search ended Feb. 3 when...
The Cleveland Indians signed first baseman Casey Kotchman to a one-year contract Thursday.
The deal is worth $3 million for the 28-year-old Kotchman, who batted a career-high .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs for the Tampa Bay Rays last season.
A strong defensive player, the left-handed hitting Kotchman appeared in a career-high 146 games last season.
He has a lifetime batting...
Two people familiar with the talks say the Cleveland Indians have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman.
Kotchman, who batted a career-best .306 for Tampa Bay last season, will make $3 million this season, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized. Kotchman can make an additional $1.75...
CLEVELAND (AP) -- After exploring other options and coming up empty this winter, the Cleveland Indians may have finally found their new first baseman: Casey Kotchman.
The team agreed to terms Thursday night on a one-year, 3 million contract with Kotchman, a free agent, two people familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity...
The quest is over! And now we can finally get on with our lives. I wrote about the Indians search for an extra bat for months, and it has finally come to an end.
Two days ago, I flew back home from a business trip. Walking towards baggage claim, I saw a man from a limo company holding up a sign that said “Kotchman.” I then tweeted the following:
24 hours later, Casey Kotchman...
It’s no secret that the Indians have been disappointed in Matt LaPorta‘s production and development, and today they took a step towards replacing him at first base. Jon Heyman reports that Cleveland will sign Casey Kotchman to what I presume is a one- or two-year contract.
Kotchman has been the butt of many jokes over the last few seasons, which tends to happen when you’re...
The Indians have officially added first baseman Casey Kotchman to their ever-changing roster.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Two people familiar with the talks say the Cleveland Indians have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman.
Casey Kotchman, who hit a career-high .306 last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, accepted a one-year, $3 million deal Thursday from the Indians.
When Carlos Pena signed with the Rays last week, the message was clear that Casey Kotchman would be playing elsewhere this season.
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Note: This Indians argument occured earlier this week, before the Casey Kotchman signing. Please disregard all nonsense involving Matt LaPorta as a first baseman. For a more recent outlook on the firstbase situation, check here.
Joe: Last week we discussed the state of the Indians outfield going into Spring Traning. This week we'll take on the infield. Let's start with the...